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'Everything Everywhere All at Once' Review: Come for the Michelle Yeoh showcase, stay for the creative storytelling

"Everything Everywhere" delivers a unique thrill in that you never quite know what's happening, yet your eyes refuse to look away.
Credit: A24

ST. LOUIS — Confession: You're not ready for what "Everything Everywhere All at Once" has in store for you.

The cinematic equivalent of the kitchen sink, it doesn't belong in a single genre and would take me the full length of this review to accurately tell you what it was all about. So, let's skip that for a second and just allow me to tell you whether or not you should go see it this weekend.

Yes, you should see it for its creativity and unconventional humor alone. Sure, there's another multiverse-themed plot but it's ingeniously used here in a story centering around Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a seemingly ordinary laundromat owner who is having trouble doing her taxes. When her family meets with a tax accountant (Jamie Lee Curtis) and a few discrepancies are found in her paperwork, something strange happens to Evelyn. She is yanked back in her chair through the office and into a supply room, where her formerly feeble husband (Ke Huy Quan) informs her she must save the world from the oppressors outside the room.

And that's just the first 10-15 minutes of the two-hour-plus movie, one that goes in several directions and never lets up. It's a great showcase for Yeoh, who hasn't really been able to stand out in front of a cast like this before in her exposure to American audiences. She had an underwritten yet fun part in last year's too-thin "Gunpowder Milkshake," where she got to show off her martial arts skill. But in "Everything," she gets to add comic timing and wacky character depth to her resume, and it's the highlight of the film.

As Evelyn digests the fact that her tax lady may be evil and she has to take her down, she starts to relive other potential lives that she could have led instead of ending up at the laundromat. Her travels go from that office to the streets to a fancy ball, and there's a well-choreographed fight sequence at just about every turn. Fans of "The Goonies" will enjoy seeing an all grown-up Quan (who played Data in the 80s classic) perform the absolute action moment. You see, for half of the film, we see Waymond Wang hobble around and feel inferior to his wife and a prisoner to his situation. Then, he switches shades and is a time-traveling warrior. Seeing him drop the cane and go berserk on a room full of baddies is reason enough to buy a ticket.

Written and directed by Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), "Everything Everywhere All at Once" delivers a unique thrill in that you never quite know what's happening, yet your eyes refuse to look away. Prepare yourself for one of Curtis' best roles in recent memory. The Michael Myers-avenging mother from Illinois is gone and in her place is the tax lady from your nightmares. 

From the moment her Deidre looks at the Wangs, there's a strong hint of racism and disgust. Quietly and ever so potently, the film tosses to the forefront a discussion on race and the conclusions that one can still jump to over someone's ethnic background. The Daniels manage to pull that off without beating us over the head with preachy themes.

Before long, another fight breaks out and you are laughing at the fact that all characters have an extra (fake) eye on their foreheads and their fingers have all of a sudden swollen up to foam-sized metacarpals that render them useless in combat. This is wacky, zany movie territory.

While I will hold off on Oscar discussion, I will say this movie should win the award for most accurate movie title. It has about six speeds and they all slice like hammers over the two hour and 19 minute run time. Forget popcorn and soda; bring a brown bag to breathe into on occasion and a trustworthy glass of wine.

Here's the thing. It's never dull, practical, or simple-minded. Daniels had a goal: reintroduce Yeoh, who is so gifted with nuance that this role hits like a ton of bricks, and gives movie audiences something they don't usually get. A genre-less, time-hopping and traveling adventure film that manages to thrill and make one laugh.

Come for Yeoh's performance and the creative vibes given off here, but stay for James Hong's loony and hilarious grandfather. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" fans will get a kick out of Stephanie Hsu as the Wang sibling who takes on multiple attitudes during the movie. Jenny Slate as a character called Big Nose is a solid addition to the chaos. Gleeful, cinematic chaos.

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for a movie you are simply not ready for.

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